Welcome to 2016! New Year can be an opportunity to change our habits for the better, so I am going to start the year with my top tips for simple meal planning.
We all know that getting a variety of well-balanced, healthy, home-cooked meals on the table every weekday evening can be a tricky task. First you have to decide what to cook, based on different factors including what you think your kids will eat. Then you have to buy the food or order it online, then find the time to cook it, then clear up afterwards – my pet hate!
Healthy meals usually don’t happen by accident or by muddling along. Having a process to follow helps to simplify things, get healthy variety into meals, and keep you sane. Here is what I have done every week during term-time since my kids started primary school, six years ago. It takes about 15 minutes, unless I allow myself to get side-tracked by step 4!
Good luck 🙂
Five steps to simple meal planning:
1. Get a notebook, A5 size works well for me, and write down any meals that are fixed that your kids will be offered that week. In my case this means school lunches, as these are ordered in advance.
2. Look at the constraints for each day, such as:
- time available for cooking, and clearing up afterwards
- contents of your freezer
- what items are on the school lunches
- who you are feeding (e.g. extra friends after school, or less kids if they are eating elsewhere)
- who is doing sports activities after they have eaten.
3. Decide which days to use the contents of your freezer, either as a base for the meal or the whole thing. Select the meals for those days and write them in the notebook. Look at the overall balance across the week, and identify what types of food are missing, e.g. fish, a veggie dish, or a type of meat?
4. Select the meals you will make for the remaining days. Get inspired by:
- looking at previous meals cooked, which will be written in the notebook in the longer term
- looking at recipe books or magazines for new ideas
- searching specific ingredients online.
5. Write all ingredients you need to buy on a Shopping List.